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Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

citizens had received a sentence of death in the Soviet Union—particuiariy
the clergy, the officers,* and all those connected \viih judicature. The
Polish Government was especially concerned over the fate of the many
thousands of officers^ of whom there was no sign.
It was calculated there ought to be over ten thousand of these men in the
Soviet Union—taken as war prisoners during the campaign or arrested
later in Eastern Poland during the purge (about i^occ), and about a further
ijCoo3 who had fallen into Soviet hands after the occupation of the Baltic
States by Russia in 1940. Of this total (over IO?OCQ), only roughly one-
sixth had been able to join Anders* Army. Many of these had managed to
survive only because they had disguised themselves as civilians or privates
during their enforced stay in Russia. There was intense amazement
among the Soviet authorities when these men revealed their identity in
the soldiers' camps after the signing of the Polish-Russian Treaty. The
officers had been well-known as such to the privates and were among the
highest of military ranks, including generals. Yet in spite of rewards
offered by the N.K.V.D., there had been no case where these officers
were betrayed by their men.
It was known that officers taken as prisoners-of-war in September and
October^ 1939, had been transferred to three large prisoner-of-war
camps; at Staro Bielsk near KharkojBc-—3,820 officers, nearly 400 of
whom were medical officers, plus 100 civilians; at Kozielsk near Smolensk
—4,500 officers plus 500 civilians, and at Ostaskov 370 officers plus 6,200
non-commissioned officers, frontier guards and civilians, chiefly members
of the Civil Service.
At the beginning of 1940, the authorities in these camps informed
the prisoners that they would soon be returning to their families and had
lists made out for this purpose, noting exactly where the men wished
to be sent on their release. On April 5th, the Soviet authorities began
to empty the camps. Up to the middle of May, groups of 60 to 300 men
were removed every few days. From Kozielsk they were sent westward
hi the direction of Smolensk. Up till then, these prisoners had written
letters to their families in Soviet and German occupied Poland, and the
letters had been received. After April> 1940, all communications ceased.
* Moat Alice-Leone, Blind Date with Mars, p. 433 :
At first it was thought that about a .mi Hi on and a half Poles were imprisoned In the
U.S.S.R0 but subsequently this figure was found to be nearer two million. By
November (1941) only seven hundred thousand had been released . „ . No trace
could be found of over five thousand officers and fourteen generals^ one of whom
was Stanislas Haller (former Chief of General Staff).
, . . The condition of the people when they arrived from the prison-camps was
heart-rending. I was on hand when a trainioad of two thousand came into
Kuibyshev. There were sixteen corpses in the cars—men and women who had
died of hunger on the way.
By a strange coincidence I encountered a man in his thirties whcm I had known
well in Vienna ten years before as a rather fat and gay young blade. It was not until
he told me his name that I recognised hjm. Although six feet tall, he weighed only
one hundred and twenty pounds.